Speaker touts religion as spark to creativity

Friday, March 4, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 28, 2008

Workplaces that are open to spirituality might actually be able to increase their creative output.

This was the message delivered by Douglas Hicks, an associate professor of leadership studies and religion at the University of Richmond, in a Thursday night lecture at MU. The lecture, “Is Creativity a Religious Concept?,” was sponsored by the MU Center for Religion, Professions and the Public. It also explored the origins of creativity in humans.

Hicks, also an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church, said both creativity and religion are difficult topics to define. He said many professionals often define creativity as a secular topic, but it can be secular, spiritual and religious.

“For all of the other things it is, creativity is a religious concept,” Hicks said.

He said creation narratives from religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism inspire humans to become crea-tors to perfect God’s world.

“Humans are both created and creating,” Hicks said.

He added that being part of a religious community can invoke creativity in people. Referring to his book, “Religion in the Workplace,” he said an open and diverse workplace community can create similar creative processes.

Hicks spoke about a framework for employers he details in his book that encourages a spiritual environment by allowing employees to display religious symbols. Hicks said discussing religious traditions in the workplace can en-courage creativity through respect.

Megan Regan, an MU junior who attended the lecture, said she was unsure if spirituality in the workplace could increase creativity.

“I think it opens it up to a lot of controversy, which could hinder creativity,” she said.

MU senior Clinton Cooper said the discussion of spirituality in the workplace was something he could see being helpful as long as it did not follow a specific doctrine.

Jill Raitt, founder of the Center for Religion, Professions and the Public, said religion often provides a social bond among people, which brings about creativity.

“The only time a religion becomes uncreative is when it becomes rigid. Then, it stifles (creativity),” she said.

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